IN A year of uncertainty, concern and fear for what the future may hold, nine-year-old Bailey Maguire from Irvinestown – who rang the bell at the Children’s Cancer Unit at Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, signalling the all-clear for her – is sure to warm the heart.

After over two years of travelling up and down the road for chemotherapy treatment, Bailey, with her mother, Megan, and father, Niall, she finally got to ring the bell in September.

Bailey was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in July, 2018, and for the next two years, she and her family made the weekly trips up to Belfast for treatment.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Megan described the road to Belfast as their “second home”, but she paid tribute to the resilience her daughter displayed throughout it all – a strength of character that was a comfort to all the family.

‘Second home’

“We lived on the road to Belfast all the time. It was like our second home,” she said.

“But Bailey was very good. Bailey took it all in her stride – she would jump up and take the injections, no problem, and take the medicines, no problem.

“She never would have given us a bit of bother the whole time. She’s a great child, but she is one of six, so she has to be [a strong character too],” added Megan with a laugh.

The family were “over the moon” when Bailey rang the bell, and read out the poem on the wall beside it, and now they are just planning on their daughter living the “normal life” of a young girl.

Megan was very happy to say that Bailey has “been well”, adding: “She still has to continue going to Belfast until she is 18, but she is going to live a normal life now.

“This is what we are going for – a normal life.”

A normal life in the current circumstances may be a bit hard to come for the moment as Covid-19 restrictions have halted many activities around the county.

Megan said that if her daughter had the opportunity, she would be out the door doing something, in a flash.

“Bailey’s flat-out. She would be playing every day if she was allowed to, but Covid-19 has locked things down.

“She is a healthy, normal child, with a head full of hair, and she’s so full of confidence.”

It was quite a busy last couple of months for Bailey, as along with getting the all-clear, she made her First Holy Communion, and also celebrated her ninth birthday.

Megan hopes that the good news the family have received recently will help give other people a lift during these uncertain times when they read about it.

“Right now, [the news] will give people a wee bit of hope; something like that would lift people’s hearts.

“You mightn’t know her, or know anything about her, but I just think it is a good way to say thank-you to the community of Fermanagh and Tyrone, and even across Northern Ireland.

“We got that much help, I wouldn’t even know where to start to say thank-you,” said Megan.

For now, Bailey is loving life and being back in school, at St. Paul’s Primary School, Irvinestown, who were so supportive throughout her whole journey.

Bailey even got the chance to ring the bell in the school when she got back to announce that she was now cancer-free.

As Megan put it: “A normal life.”